It's finals week here at UIUC, and we're pretty much all sleep-deprived and anxiety-ridden. Still, I couldn't let the death of a notable atheist go unacknowledged. Maurice Sendak, beloved author of the childrens' book Where the Wild Things Are, died today at the age of 83 and, like many, I'm completely heartbroken about it. I've always admired Sendak as an author and illustator, but I must admit that before today there was so much I didn't know about him. My admiration has grown ten-fold learning about his struggles with depression, the adversity he faced coming out as homosexual late in life, etc, and when I read this quote of Mr. Sendak's from 2003 interview on NPR's Fresh Air, I just had to share it.
"I am not a religious person, nor do I have any regrets. The war took care of that for me. You know, I was brought up strictly kosher, but I — it made no sense to me. It made no sense to me what was happening. So nothing of it means anything to me. Nothing. Except these few little trivial things that are related to being Jewish. ... You know who my gods are, who I believe in fervently? Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson — she's probably the top — Mozart, Shakespeare, Keats. These are wonderful gods who have gotten me through the narrow straits of life."Wise words, to which I'm sure many of us can relate. Rest in peace, Maurice. You will live on through your stories for years to come.